MINUTES

Board of Adjustment Hearing

October 21, 2008 

The Clarkson Valley Board of Adjustment, pursuant to notices posted, met at City Hall in the Fru-Con Building to consider three agenda items.  

            Board of Adjustment members present were:

                        Darryl Brody, Chairperson

                        Jack Hauser

                        Paul Mercurio

                        Phyllis Newmark

                        Terry Rosenstrauch 

              The City Attorney, Mr. Patrick Butler attended and the City Clerk, Michele McMahon recorded the Minutes.  The Chairman, Darryl Brody, asked if all Board Members had a chance to view the properties, to which they responded affirmatively.  Mr. Brody read all three agenda items. 

            After the meeting was called to order and protocol established, those members in the audience wishing to address the Commission regarding the agenda items were sworn in.  They included Randy and Patricia Valli; Janet Saverin and Tom Shelley; James Van Becelaere, Debra Kramer and Bill Berry.  Richard Neidballa and Kristina Neidballa were later sworn in when they requested to give testimony.   

The Chairperson asked all three petitioners if they had objections to any of the Members of the Board of Adjustment comprising the quorum?  To which they responded they did not.   

Mr. Valli gave a brief explanation for his request, saying his house was built at a time when the City had 15’ side yards.  He realized that any addition he proposed would be required to start at the 25’ building line.  His request to the Board is to consider a 1,900 sq. ft. addition he would like to build for his family, going straight back from the existing house, which is situated 5.8’ beyond the 25’ side building line.  He said that in building this addition, he really did not want to have an indentation – or jutting-in where the addition would start almost 6’ off the back of the house.   

Mr. Jack Hauser mentioned the Comment Sheet from one of the Valli’s neighbors that spoke of drainage issues.  Mr. Valli introduced Richard Neidballa, who is renting the home owned by his parents.  Richard and his mother, Kristina said the drainage became an issue when the pool house was first built.  Mr. Valli said the pool house does have runoff, but the problem actually came about when they finished their basement.  In order to keep the basement dry, they use a sump pump and due to gravity, the Neidballa’s experience the runoff.  He also said the Neidballa’s unfortunately have one of the lowest lots in the subdivision.  Mr. Valli said his intent is to take the earth from the excavation and create a berm in an attempt to divert the water to the storm sewer in the back common ground.  Mrs. Neidballa said if the Valli’s were to do that, she would be comfortable with the project.  Mr. Brody suggested they might look into creating a French drain, but that was not stated as a requirement to be granted the variance. 

            A call for proponents was made, to which there was none.  The City Attorney, Patrick Butler explained to the Board Members the intent of the zoning code and read the merits and conclusion portion contained therein.   

The Chairperson, Darryl Brody, asked the Members for their factual determination of the first proposal to which: question (1) five are, (2) five will not, (3) five will, (4) five will not, (5) five will not, (6) five will. 

A roll call vote was then taken to allow/not allow the proposed addition to encroach 5.8’ beyond the required 25’ side yard.  Yeas: Brody, Hauser, Mercurio, Newmark, and Rosenstrauch.  There were no nays.  The Chairperson declared the petition as being approved and said that any change in those plans would negate the variance that was granted at this meeting. 

The Chairperson then read the second agenda item for a request from Ms. Janet Saverin to tidy the site plan for posterity and to make improvements with City approval by acquiring the necessary building permits.  The following items encroach into the various setbacks: Existing Home (built in 1909); retaining walls, boulder waterfall; brick wall at front of property, iron fencing and gate; and brick walls at courtyard.  Ms. Saverin introduced herself along with her brother the general contractor for this project, Tom Shelley, and stated her request.  Ms. Saverin gave the history of the house, which she said was this area’s second schoolhouse (Oakridge School No. 2).  She said the entire house was built in front of the front building line at a time before there was a city or a notion of a code that would include building lines.  She said what they are proposing is to rebuild the existing deck and in fact, make it smaller.  This deck fits within the current footprint and would have less square footage outside the building lines.  They also want to build a bay over an existing stoop.   

Mr. Terry Rosenstrauch brought up the detached garage, but Mr. Tom Shelley stated that was within the setback.  Mr. Rosenstrauch explained that detached garages are also against the code.  It was determined the garage was there when the previous owner moved into the home in 1986.  Mrs. Phyllis Newmark asked if Ms. Saverin considered listing the house with the historical registry.  She said it is currently on the historical inventory and she is looking into having it registered.  

A call for proponents and opponents was made, to which there was none.  The City Attorney, Patrick Butler explained to the Board Members the intent of the zoning code and read the merits and conclusion portion contained therein.   

The Chairperson, Darryl Brody, asked the Members for their factual determination of the second agenda item: question (1) five are, (2) five will not, (3) five will, (4) five will not, (5) five will not, (6) five will. 

The Chairperson then called for a vote of approval/disapproval to grant the desired variance with the following results:  Yeas: Brody, Hauser, Mercurio, Newmark, and Rosenstrauch.  There were no nays.   

The Chairperson declared the petition as being approved.  Darryl Brody then advised Ms. Saverin that the variance granted by the Board was based upon the Board’s review of the plans as submitted and any change in those plans would negate the variance that was granted at this meeting. 

The Chairperson then read the third agenda item for a request from Mr. James Van Becelaere and Debra Kramer for a proposed fireplace to encroach 2.6” beyond the building line on a house in the process of being newly constructed.  Mr. Van Becelaere introduced himself, his wife, Debra Kramer and his general contractor for this project, Bill Berry, and stated his request.  Mr. Van Becelaere described the main feature of this house as being the hearth room.  He explained that by trying to move the fireplace, it would ruin the whole appearance of the room.  The masonry fireplace adds aesthetic value to the exterior, as well.  He stated that if they moved the house in by 2-1/2’, it would lose a lot of square footage. 

        Mr. Berry went on to explain the beginning situation, which is they were given a site plan from Mr. Ahal, the original owner, that showed 15’ side yard building lines.  That was the first time they had to shrink the house to make it fit within the side building lines by approximately 2 feet.  Then they worked under the assumption that cantilevered structures would be acceptable up to a limited number of feet, which in Clarkson Valley – is not the case.  After the plans were submitted to the Subdivision Trustees, the Trustees required that additional brick be added to the sides of the house.  By adding the required brick, the builder had to reduce the width of the house an additional 6 to 8 inches.  So they shrunk the width of the house a second time, but the proposed fireplace encroached the side building lines by 2.5 feet. The last time they submitted plans; it was for the house that fits within the required side building lines, but without the encroaching fireplace.  

Further discussion ensued about possible locations of the fireplace.  Chairman Brody mentioned while he visited the construction site, he looked at the construction plans showing a Heatilator fireplace in the corner and asked if that could come off to the side?  Mr. Berry indicated that the construction plans submitted for a building permit did have the fireplace in the corner, pending the outcome of the application to the Board of Adjustment.  The builder and owners wanted to start construction pending a review of the application for a variance regarding the fireplace location.  In later statement, Mr. Van Becelaere said he did not recall seeing the fireplace in the corner on the building plans.  It eventually came to the point that Patrick Butler, City Attorney, explained to the Board that this is a normal, rectangular, cookie-cutter lot.  Everything the Board Members heard tonight regarding this proposal was about the house and not the unique hardship of the lot.  He stated that he was concerned about the lack of evidence presented by the applicant regarding the unique nature of the lot, such as the shape, topography, or pre-existing structures that may create an unusual hardship.  He asked the Board Members to think about the precedent they might be setting.  The builder stated he did not think the hardship was to the exterior; it was to the interior.  Upon further questioning by Chairperson Brody, the builder agreed that the fireplace could be located off the back of the house or on the interior of the house, but that the property owners really feel that the location of the proposed fireplace was the best location for the interior aesthetics of the new home.  Mr. Berry also stated that it was opinion that the proposed location of the fireplace will improve the curb appearance of the home.

A call for proponents and opponents was made, to which there was none.  The City Attorney, Patrick Butler explained to the Board Members the intent of the zoning code and read the merits and conclusion portion contained therein.   

The Chairperson, Darryl Brody, asked the Members for their factual determination of the second agenda item: question (1) five are not, (2) five will, (3) one will, four will not, (4) one will, four will not, (5) five will not, (6) five will. 

The Chairperson then called for a vote of approval/disapproval to grant the desired variance with the following results:  Yeas: Hauser, Mercurio and Newmark.  Nays: Brody and Rosenstrauch.   

The Chairperson declared the petition as being denied.  There was further discussion. 

            The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.  

Respectfully submitted, Michele McMahon, City Clerk